A Death In The Gunj

Banner: MacGuffin Pictures, Moh Maya Films

Producers: Abhishek Chaubey, Honey Trehan, Ashish Bhatnagar, Vijay Kumar Swami, Raagii Bhatnagar

Director: Konkona Sensharma

Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Vikrant Massey, Om Puri, Kalki Koechlin, Tanuja, Gulshan Devaiah, Tillotama Shome, Jim Sarbh, Arya Sharma

Writer: Konkona Sensharma

Music: Sagar Desai

Death in GunjBased on a story by her father Mukul Sharma, Konkona Sensharma marks a stellar debut as a writer and director. The film starts in McCluskiegunj in Jharkhand in the late 1970s. The opening shot shows a body being booted into an Ambassador car. The story then goes back a week, in flashback, and we are introduced to a family on vacation.

Visiting a remote, rural homestead owned by O P Bakshi (Om Puri) and his wife Anupama (Tanuja) is Nandu (Gulshan Devaiah) with his wife Bonnie (Tillotama Shome) and their daughter Tani (Arya Sharma), accompanied by Nandu’s quiet, extra-sensitive cousin Shutu (Vikrant Massey) and their overbearing friend Mimi (Kalki Koechlin). Shutu is always bullied by the entire family, especially family friend Vikram (Ranvir Shorey). How this family gathering ends with a death takes the story forward.

Sensharma narrates her story with simplicity and honesty, and this is reflected in every character. She has done her homework with the script, especially the characters. Also, as the writer of the film, she has handled the delicate scenes beautifully. The movie opens very well. From the very first scene, you feel the sense of self-poise Shutu has and in an instant, you feel connected with him and his inner turmoil.

Music by Sagar Desai and background score suit the pace of the film and compliment the narrative. Costumes and locations are fabulous. Cinematography by Sirsha Ray is top notch and his camerawork justifies the proceedings exceedingly well. The dialogue is impressive, some of which is in Bengali, Hindi but mainly English. Editing by Aarif Sheikh and Manas Mittal is firm.  

Performance-wise, Ranvir Shorey excels and plays his part with flamboyance. Vikrant Massey wraps subtleness around his character and delivers an outstanding performance. Kalki Koechlin again delivers another stunning performance. Tanuja holds her ground right from the first frame to the very last. She is excellent. Gulshan Devaiah is fantastic and plays his role with gusto. Tillotama Shome impresses. Jim Sarbh plays his part exceptionally well. The late Om Puri stays true to his character and plays his part with panache. Arya Sharma is splendid. The rest of the cast supports amply.

Verdict: A must watch!

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As on 15th July, 2017
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